By Tucker Sparkman
Hey, what up Umph lovers? I’m super excited to have the boys playing in my backyard. Having travelled to Atlanta and Chillicothe and even (Christ) New Jersey among other places in the last year to see our favorite band, I was super excited when they announced a 3-night run stumbling distance from my apartment. And as beautiful as the Beacon is and as much as I love the acoustics in there, I’m very much looking forward to not being restricted to the limited space of an assigned seat.
SO, having lived off the Graham L stop for 7 years now I thought I’d write up a brief guide to neighborhood of Brooklyn Steel. Where to get the best foods, where to grab pre- or post-show drinks, and which mexican restaurant has given me food poisoning it’s called Loco Burrito for the love of God don’t go to Loco Burrito I’m honestly stunned whenever I see people eating there the food isn’t even good believe me I was sufferin’ on the shitter.
I tried to focus on East Williamsburg and southern Greenpoint as I’m sure many of you have already been to shows at Brooklyn Bowl or are familiar with the main part of Williamsburg off the Bedford L stop.
If you have any questions PLEASE feel free to reach out to me on Twitter, I’m @TuckerSparkman. And say hi if you see me at the shows!
Carmine’s Pizzeria - 358 Graham Ave. btw. Metropolitan and Conselyea
Carmine’s is the best pizzeria in the immediate area. Your other option is Tony’s directly across the street and it’s fine ‘cause it’s a pizza place in Brooklyn so the baseline is pretty high, but Carmine’s definitely superior. The one thing I will say about Carmine’s is their weak point is their plain cheese slice, so if you’re looking for just some cheese and sauce on bread I’d go with their “Grandma” slice. All their specialty slices are good, but I haven’t eaten meat in a few years so I can’t comment on many of them but I definitely recommend the vodka sauce slice if they have it. Carmine’s also has a sports bar attached to it, so if you’re looking for a place to watch a game it’s a good choice.
Vinnie’s Pizzeria - 253 Nassau Ave., corner of Nassau and Kingsland -or- 148 Bedford Ave. btw. N 8th and N 9th
One of the owners of Vinnie’s is friends with myself and some other Umph heads and he’ll be at the Saturday show so I feel like I gotta give them a plug. Vinnie’s has a wide variety of specialty slices, and in particular has a great deal of vegan and gluten-free options if that’s what you’re in the market for.
The Bagel Store - 754 Metropolitan Ave. btw. Graham and Humboldt
This is the birthplace of those rainbow bagels, which is all well and good, but really their regular are IMO some of the best in the city. On weekends the tourists typically pour in for the rainbow bagels but hopefully the L train being shutdown will mitigate that. I pretty much only eat their “everything” bagels and would recommend those or another traditional variety of bagel over their more ostentatious and colorful options. But I dunno I guess if you’re tripping the colors would probably be pretty cool.
Bagelsmith - 566 Lorimer St., corner of Metropolitan and Lorimer
Look, Bagelsmith isn’t the best but it’s decent and it’s OPEN 24 HOURS, so when you’re drunk and high and craving a bagel or bacon, egg and cheese at 1am this is your spot.
Mother’s - 347 Graham Ave. btw Metropolitan and Conselyea
Best burger in the area and really good veggie burger as well. Decently long draft list ranging from cheap Naragansett to Two Hearted Ale and more. Open til 12 on Thursday and 2 on Fri/Sat. Really if you’re looking for a bite and beer before the show this is the first place I’d recommend.
FourFiveSix - 199 Richardson St., btw. Humboldt and N. Henry
This place is cool, the front is filled with a bunch of crap, looks like a junkyard. If you’re trying to keep the night rolling post-show this is good spot, with a DJ on Friday and Saturday nights til “late”. Open til 2 on Thursday and 4AM on Friday and Saturday.
Humboldt and Jackson - 434 Humboldt St., corner of - wait for it - Humboldt and Jackson
This place is ~4 blocks from the venue and serves food until midnight so if you go right after the show you can probably grab something. Open til 2AM. Last time I went there after a show there was karaoke which was honestly too much for me to handle at the time but I don’t think that’s a regular thing so you’ll probably be fine.
One Stop - 134 Kingsland Ave., corner of Kingsland and Beadel
This place has board games and stuff you can play while you drink. Good place to wind down I suppose like Humboldt and Jackson it’s one of the closest to the venue. Hang a right out of the venue doors, 2.5 blocks up, left and one block more.
Reclamation Bar - 817 Metropolitan Ave., btw. Woodpoint and Orient
If you’re looking for cocktails or whiskey this is probably the best bet. My next door neighbor is a bartender here and if I’m being honest I don’t actually know his name and it’s way too late for me to admit that to him.
Basik - 323 Graham Ave. btw Metropolitan and Devoe
My favorite late-night spot on weekends. Good cocktails, very chill, jazz on Sunday evenings if you’re hanging around the neighborhood after then run.
Northern Bell - 612 Metropolitan Ave., btw Lorimer and Leonard
Great beer list and Carolina-style BBQ, though again the kitchen’s only open til midnight I believe. I’ve had a couple birthday get-togethers here so you know I like it, but it’s a few blocks further than the other bars listed here. Bagelsmith is a couple doors down, and so is…
Alligator Lounge - 600 Metropolitan Ave.
At Alligator Lounge you get a ticket for a free personal pizza with every drink. It’s pretty ridiculous but on a weekend night expect to wait for your pie.
Union Pool - 484 Union Ave., corner of Union and Meeker.
Union Cesspool. Go here if you’re tryna hook up with someone. Mexican food truck in the back.
Barcade - 388 Union Ave.
Old-school arcade cabinets and a lengthy beer list. This location has mostly 80s games. Always packed on weekends.
(Like, sit down and have a decent meal type places.)
Il Passatore - 14 Bushwick Ave.
Great little Italian spot that’s not terribly price relative to the quality of food.
Mesa Coyoacan - 372 Graham Ave.
Fancy-ish Mexican place with good margaritas of course.
Sage - 299-301 Graham Ave.
There’s several Thai places in the area but this one’s my go-to. Has a bar attached where you can also order food from the restaurant, so if it’s on the fuller side that might be a good option.
Tar Pit - 135 Woodpoint Rd.
Right near the venue, so good for fueling up if you’re a rail-rider trying to snag a spot in line. If they have any Belgian Waffles left those are a real nice treat, but their croissants and cheddar-chive biscuits are excellent as well. I will say that the barista quality varies, so while coffee is always solid from there, the cappuccinos do vary in quality and I suppose I’ve just outed myself as a fancy coffee lad.
Variety - 368 Graham Ave.
This is the neighborhood hotspot, as it’s been around for years and is right near the train. It’s always good, I’ve been coming here for years and it’s widely regarded by baristas I talk to elsewhere in the city as one of the better coffee roasters. The muffins from Blue Sky Bakery here are great.
(it’s Brooklyn, so all these places get pretty busy)
Harefield Road - 769 Metropolitan Ave., btw Graham and Humboldt
This place has a great brunch deal on Saturdays and Sundays: $14 for an entree, mimosa/bloody, and a coffee/tea. As a result it’s usually pretty full but again hopefully the L train being down will help with that. Also a good bar that’s open til 4AM.
Concord Road - 374 Graham Ave., btw Conselyea and Skillman
I’ve only been here once, wildly hungover the morning...err...afternoon after that Halloween Aqueous show. It was good but man I don’t know if I can even remember what I had.
Le Barricou - 533 Grand Ave. btw Union and Lorimer
French-style and my favorite brunch in the neighborhood. Also good for a nice Dinner. The duck confit hash is absolutely the dish to order.
Late Night Stars Deli - 357 Graham Ave., corner of Graham and Conselyea
This bodega is my spot for breakfast sandwiches and it’s 24 HOURS. They also have a variety of other sandwiches and of course, beer.
Graham Garden - 359 Graham Ave., other corner of Graham and Conselyea
This is the more upscale small grocery across the street and it’s also 24 HOURS. They have a good salad bar and also a variety of sandwich options. Much much larger selection than your typical bodega but also pricier.
Grass Roots Juicery - 336a Graham Ave., right by Metropolitan.
I dunno, maybe you’re the type to cure a hangover with a bunch of concentrated vegetation or a smoothie, and if so this is your spot. I don’t go very often ‘cause it’s pricey the same way all juice spots are, but the Espresso Buzz is a solid pick-me-up: two shots of espresso with cacao, banana and blueberry.
FURTHER AFIELD -
(Some other Williamsburg spots that are a little further from the venue that I feel are worth mentioning. I can’t be assed to write down addresses, just look em up on your phone.)
Fette Sau - if you wanna know what the fuck “Brooklyn Barbecue” means
Pies n’ Thighs - great fried chicken and pie. I recommend the chicken biscuit.
Five Leaves - Usually very busy Greenpoint spot. The restaurant Heath Ledger envisioned and designed before his death. If you can get in for brunch the ricotta pancakes are out of this world.
Bozu - Great Japanese spot in the main part of Williamsburg, decently priced as well. Sushi ‘bombs’ are good.
Peter Pan Donuts - Greenpoint spot for classic-style donuts. Best donuts around in my opinion but they’ll stick to the sides of your guts the rest of the day.
Meat lovers I’ve already addressed your needs, just trying to look out for my fellow hippies.
Modern Love - 317 Union Ave
Really great vegan spot if you’re looking for a nice place to sit down. Dinner only.
Champs Diner - 197 Meserole St
More relaxed spot for American food Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.
Dun-Well Donuts - 222 Montrose Ave
Vegan donuts in a creative variety of flavors, great even if you’re not vegan.
Tucker is a writer/actor/comedian/musician/Umphreak living in Brooklyn. You can catch his show “Die-Ahuasc-Hard”, which is Die Hard at an ayahuasca retreat, at UCB Hell’s Kitchen on March 18th at 6pm.